Sometimes it's OK to forgo financial gains if you can use your money to help make the world a better place. Energy in Common is Kiva with a green twist — all the projects they offer up for investment are for renewable energy systems in the developing world. Last year I invested $25 in Edna Mganga, a restaurateur in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who used my capital and the capital of other micro-investors to buy a solar panel system for her restaurant. Her $1,085 loan will be paid back in 12 months and will fund a solar system big enough to prevent 1 metric ton of CO2 from being produced each year.
What the deal lacks in interest (like Kiva, loans made via Energy in Common are paid back at 0 percent interest) it more than makes up for in feel-good. It's a great tool to help people like Edna Mganga reduce their energy bills while knocking out a small portion of the dirty electricity needed to fully power the grid in Dar es Salaam.